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State dollars landing in classrooms

While the 2011 legislative session proved a negative one for teachers across the state, the 2012 discussions are off to a strong start.

The Alabama Senate passed a bill Thursday that will release funds to teachers for the purchase of classroom materials.

The bill, SB 257, would provide for an annual appropriation from the Education Trust Fund of $300 to each classroom teacher in public school, grades K-12. Giving teachers the resources they need is critical to the education of Alabama students according to Senator Greg Reed, the bill’s sponsor.

“We have to support our educators. Providing money to purchase these classroom supplies is not only a critical part of that support, but it’s the right thing to do,” Reed said.

Previously, much of the supplies in Alabama classrooms were purchased out of pocket by the teachers. Placing that burden on teachers is unreasonable, said Senator Reed.

“No teacher should have to be without basic supplies for their classroom. We want our educators to have all the tools they need to provide a first rate education to our students,” Reed said. “This bill will give them that.”

If signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley, the bill will provide somewhat of a boost to each classroom in the state. Still, it will fall well short of the $1,000 per classroom initially sought.

“We’re excited about that $300,” Demopolis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Al Griffin said of the bill. “Classroom instruction supply money has been slashed over the last few years. That Demopolis City Schools Foundation grants won’t be slashed to pick up the slack. We’re happy about it. But I sure do wish our teachers could have gotten that $1,000. Not only do they need it, they deserve it.”

This bill is part of the legislation’s larger focus on education. In addition to this bill, the senate passed SB143 last week, a bill that guaranteed pay of the $5,000 salary supplement to teachers that are certified by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

While that bill will not have as wide of a reach on Demopolis City Schools, it will positively impact the system’s only two nationally certified educators: Griffin, whose certification is in agriscience and Demopolis High School’s Melissa Latham, whose certification is Early Childhood through Young Adult/Exceptional Needs Specialist.